Playful, contemporary and seriously good-looking. The Raw-Edges design studio consistently comes up with the most heart-stopping designs. Get set to ooh and aah.
There are some designers that bring you sheer joy every time you come across one of their products. The characteristic elements of which come together in a unique way – right blend of colours, playful shapes and a certain delight in creating that comes right through in the finished product. When a chair makes you giddy with glee, you know there’s something special going on.
Designers Yael Mer & Shay Alkalay are part of that rare breed of product designers that breathe dazzling new life into old shapes. They graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2006/2007 and have since received several awards including The British Council Talented Award, iF Gold Award, Dutch Design Award, Wallpaper* Design Award 2009 and the Elle Decoration International Design Award for best furniture of 2008-09. Their clients include Cappellini, Established & Sons, Moroso, Kvadrat, Stella McCartney and Arco among others. Their London-based design studio is called Raw-Edges.
Raw-Edges broke the mould right from the beginning with the award-winning ‘Stack’, a set of drawers for Established & Sons (2007). These stackable drawers are irregular in shape and height and can be stacked to create a tower of drawers which can be pulled and pushed in different directions.
Their designs for furniture have consistently been unusual and slightly whacky at first glance. The Volume series (2007) boasted of seats made from “big sheets of paper or wallpaper” over a polyurethane foam base. The seats can be moulded to create a shape of choice – an intriguing prospect for space-challenged homes.
Continuing to experiment with shape and form is the Rocking Slipper (2006) chair/shoe. Is it something to put in your living room or closet? Perhaps both. Made of wood, metal and felt, this hybrid was developed under the title of ‘Body Extension’ where a “wearable item gets almost to the territory of an independent product.”
Also startling in its simplicity and elegance are the Selvedge and Kenny chair. Two different coloured yarns were woven perpendicular into the innovative Kvadrat Hallingdal 65 textile resulting in a fabric where more of the woof’s colour was exposed. The fabric was stretched to the structure of the armchair resulting in a curvaceous chair that makes your heart skip a beat.
Similarly, the Pleated stool is a sensuous piece of furniture that borrows heavily from fashion. Raw-Edges folded and re-folded DuPont Tyvek to create a “springy, 3D cushion” filled with soft polyurethane foam. Another unconventional design is the Tailored Wood Bench and Stool made of oak veneer filled with foam. Each piece is unique and made to fit the user and the end result looks like fabric draped over furniture.
The Pivot cabinet is yet another intriguing shape. The solid wood cabinet has tall legs and two drawers. What’s different? “The drawers can hinge, making it possible to open both at the same time, which is impossible with a conventional set of drawers.” Handy when you’re looking for that elusive set of keys.
The experiments continue with ‘Hammock’, a double-size hammock made out of five laser-cut Alcantara sheets in different colours. Alcantara is an innovative flat material that can be cut and layered together. The designers compare the process to screen-printing where a colourful result can be achieved by adding many layers together.
Bibliophiles will be familiar with the Booken, a bookcase made of books. Born out of the idea that people don’t usually re-read the novels they have on their shelves, the books were used, instead, as a support surface.
Raw-Edges also has several intriguing designs for lighting including the Pinha, a fun hanging lamp with a outer shell made of cork. The user can customise the lamp by choosing the shade and the direction and range of the light. More recently, the Smartlight combines a bedside table light and smart-phone holder/charger. Five intelligent and quirky designs make it easy to read in bed and never hunt for your phone in the dark again.
The design studio has also successfully experimented with every day products such as the very-ignored Milk Carton. Percentages of fat in the milk can be identified visually by the shape of the cardboard carton, rather than the fine print on it.
Along with product design, Raw-Edges also creates interiors, flooring (including a colourful herringbone parquet floor) and products like Tex, a multi-coloured ceramic tile inspired by the texture of textiles.
Raw-Edges show, with their colourful and intelligent designs, that it is possible to create useful products with a seriously playful bent to them.
Text By Chryselle D’Silva Dias
Photographs Courtesy The Designer